History in the Cornish Pipe Line!
A rare archaeological find has been discovered near Boscaswell, in a site that was being excavated in preparation for some South West Water pipes. The find consists of four or five drinking beakers and a cooking pit from a 2000BC Early Bronze age settlement and may reveal essential information on the eating and social habits of some of the earliest Cornish settlers.
Unearthing a few broken beer mugs and an abandoned barbeque left along the Cornish Coast might seem like an average Sunday morning discovery, but when the litter bugs in question happen to have been dead for around 4,000 years, then the find takes a far more exciting twist. The discovery is only the second of its kind in Cornwall and was made by the Historic Environment Service, who were excavating the topsoil in Geevor on the outskirts of Boscaswell, on behalf on South West Water.
South West Water contracts archaeologists to excavate in sites of potential historical significance, so the Company can be assured that their work will not destroy any priceless information about the region's past. For archaeologist and historians, this find is one of great significance and has been dated to the end of the Neolithic era (the last phase of the Stone Age) and the beginning of the Bronze Age, when our ancestors first starting getting the hang of metalwork.
Unsurprisingly none of the drinking beakers found at Boscaswell are complete and were deliberately broken before being thrown onto the bonfire. Furthermore, only certain, decorated potsherds were left there, including one highly decorated sherd which was the only piece of that pot found at Boscaswell. The charcoal from the cooking pit will be subjected to AMS dating (a precise form of carbon dating), which should provide a very close date for the use of the site. Bulk samples taken from the mound will be sieved in case they contain pollen, which will offer valuable information about the landscape and climate at Boscaswell 4000 years ago and the diet of the people of the time.
The artefacts were discovered on land that belongs to the National Trust, who responded to the concerns of local people by working with the contractors to build a wall around the cooking pit to preserve it and make sure that it can still be seen after the pipeline trench is backfilled. South West Water has been cooperating with the archaeologists and has happily changed the location of the proposed new pipeline by a number of meters, so that it does not affect the site and this extraordinary discovery!
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Notes to Editors:
Part of Cornwall County Council's Environment and Heritage Service, the Historic Environment Service's aim is to identify, record, protect, conserve, present and interpret the historic environment and heritage of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. The Historic Environment Service provides specialist advice on archaeological and heritage matters to numerous bodies, organisations and the public, undertakes a large number of projects and contracts, and produces publications and promotional material.
HES can be contacted at HES@cornwall.gov.uk, Kennal Building, Old County Hall, Station Road, Truro, TR1 3AY Tel: 01872 323603. Fax 01872 323811 or 01872 323947.
Published: 16 December 2005
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